Dryden Theatre reopens after major renovation

Oscar®-nominated filmmaker and George Eastman Honorary Scholar James Ivory visits April 6

For Release 2013-03-05

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House reopened Saturday, March 2, after a two-month closure that allowed for extensive renovations and enhancements to the auditorium and projection booth. The guest artist on opening night was Oscar®-winning director and writer Alexander Payne, and next on the roster is Oscar®-nominated filmmaker James Ivory on April 6.

Features in the new Dryden — one of the world’s leading and oldest archival theaters — include new seats, new carpeting, enhanced ceiling and aisle lighting, more legroom, a new screen, and digital projection. The original seats from 1951 were sold to the public in January and have been replaced with ones larger in size and burgundy in color with wooden armrests.


The installation of a Barco digital projector enables the presentation of contemporary cinema through digital media. A key component of this project has been acknowledging the rise of digital formats while continuing to showcase historic film prints, honoring the aesthetic choices of filmmakers by projecting both analog and digital movie images as they were intended to be seen. The Dryden is one of only five theaters in the country equipped for the projection of original nitrate film (film made before 1951) and this capacity is being maintained in the upgraded projection booth.


“The Dryden Theatre is more than a movie theater,” said Dr. Paolo Cherchi Usai, senior curator of motion pictures. “It is the exhibition gallery for the art of cinema as seen, interpreted, and explained by George Eastman House. The Dryden Theatre is a state-of-the-art exhibition venue for the museum and a place where cinema, as an event, finds its most perfect manifestation.”


A new state-of-the-art hearing-induction loop system for the hard-of-hearing was also part of the project, made possible by the Rochester Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America. The renovated Dryden also features automated masking for the screen to accommodate all cinematic formats and the popular gold curtain, which rises before each screening, will be re-hung. The balcony layout has been reconfigured to allow for more legroom, which has lowered the number of seats in the theater from its original 535 to 500 seats.


Final phase of a decade-long project

The Dryden Theatre renovation was funded largely by a grant from the New York State Senate, as well as support from individual donors. The State Senate also appropriated funds for the first two phases of the Dryden Theatre renovation project, which began in 2001 with improvements to the lobby and box offices. The second phase in 2007 was a technology upgrade that resulted in the installation of new projectors, speakers and amplifiers, PA system, and projection screen.



Celebration continues with James Ivory April 6

The March 2 reopening of the renovated Dryden Theatre featured a screening with Oscar®-winning filmmaker Alexander Payne (The Descendants, About Schmidt, Sideways) and a gala dinner.

Oscar®-nominated director and George Eastman Honorary Scholar James Ivory (Room with a View, Remains of the Day, Howard’s End) will visit the Dryden at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 6, and present his 1995 film Jefferson in Paris. Tackling the story of one of history’s most enigmatic figures, Ivory and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala lend their unique visions to the true story of Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings. During his time as Representative to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Jefferson is entangled in an affair with a married woman. When his daughter returns from France, he is drawn into another affair—this time with his daughter’s slave. Ivory’s portrait of this conflicted and contradictory character exhibits his versatile and insightful storytelling abilities.


Ivory will join the Dryden audience for an introduction and Q&A. Tickets are $12 general admission and $10 for members and students. Advance tickets re on sale now at eastmanhouse.org or in person at the museum. An accompanying Dryden series of Ivory’s films will be screened every Wednesday in April, featuring films from the Merchant Ivory Productions archive preserved at Eastman House.


“Take a Seat” in the Dryden

The public is invited to become part of this important moment in the history of the Dryden by sponsoring a seat in the renovated auditorium. Your name, or the name of a loved one or honoree, will be engraved on a permanent brass plaque on the arm of a seat. A sponsored seat is $1,000 and a specifically selected seat is $1,500. For more information, please

call (585) 271-3361 ext. 384 or visit eastmanhouse.org/takeaseat.


History of the Dryden Theatre

The Dryden Theatre is named for George Eastman’s niece, Ellen Dryden, and her husband, George, who funded its construction in memory of Eastman’s contribution to motion pictures. Eastman is heralded as the father of motion picture film, having provided the film for Thomas Edison’s movie machines beginning in 1889, and dominating the industry for all decades thereafter. The Dryden has welcomed hundreds of filmmakers and actors in its 62 years and more than 1 million audience members. The repertory screenings feature titles from studios, fellow archives, and the George Eastman House motion picture archive, which is the third largest in the United States.


A video of the renovation project is online at dryden.eastmanhouse.org


Attn. Media

High-res art of the Dryden is online at https://eastmanhouse.box.com/s/tqe1fwbrbedjk8p7ph2p



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